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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 15:26 GMT
German MP defends Jewish remarks
Jews at Auschwitz
The Nazis killed nearly six million Jews across Europe
A German parliamentarian has refused to apologise for remarks that appeared to compare Jews during the Bolshevik Revolution to Nazis in World War II.

Conservative Martin Hohmann had said many Jews were active in execution squads during the Russian Revolution.

Members of Mr Hohmann's CDU party responded angrily and Jewish leaders have threatened to take legal action.

The Christian Democrats have faced allegations in the past about members having links to the extreme right.

'Perpetrators'

Mr Hohmann's comments, made in a 3 October speech, have only surfaced now.

He compared the killings in Russia's violent 1917 revolution, which he said were orchestrated by Jews, with the murder of Europe's Jews during the Holocaust of World War II.

According to a transcript of his speech on the website of his local CDU branch in Neuhof, Mr Hohmann said: "Jews were active in great numbers in the leadership as well as in the Cheka [Soviet secret police] firing squads.

There is no place for anti-Semites in the German parliament
Dieter Wiefelspuetz
"Thus one could describe Jews with some justification as a Taetervolk [a race of perpetrators].

"That may sound horrible. But it would follow the same logic with which one describes the Germans as a race of perpetrators."

However, he went on to say: "Neither the Germans nor the Jews are a race of perpetrators."

The speech has since been taken off the site.

The BBC's Ray Furlong in Berlin says Mr Hohmann went further in defending his remarks on national television.

He said the MP demanded "justice" for Germans and that they should not define themselves as the nation who caused Auschwitz.

In a brief statement on Friday, without apologising or directly retracting his comments, Mr Hohmann said: "I describe neither the Jews nor the Germans as a nation of perpetrators."

"It wasn't and isn't my intention to hurt anyone's feelings."

Taboo

The head of Germany's Jewish community, Paul Spiegel, called Mr Hohmann's speech "a reach into the lowest drawer of disgusting anti-Semitism".

He said he had spoken to CDU leader Angela Merkel and assured reporters "she shared my views".

Neither the Germans nor the Jews are a race of perpetrators
Martin Hohmann
Friday statement
Ms Merkel said Mr Hohmann's words were "completely unacceptable and intolerable, and we distance ourselves from them absolutely".

She has spoken to the lawmaker on the telephone, but has not said the party will expel him.

Our correspondent says any criticism of Jewish people is still a taboo in Germany, which makes this incident extremely embarrassing for Mr Hohmann's party.

Dieter Wiefelspuetz, a senior parliamentarian for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats, took a harder line.

"There is no place for anti-Semites in the German parliament," he said.




SEE ALSO:
Russia's revolution 85 years on
06 Nov 02  |  Europe
Timeline: Russia
22 Oct 03  |  Country profiles


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